Fact sheet - Modernising the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992

Exposure Draft Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022

Background/Purpose

In the Northern Territory, discrimination on the basis of a number of protected attributes including, age, disability, race, sex is prohibited in certain areas of public life, including education and employment.

Discrimination law is an evolving area and it is important for the Territory to keep up to date with today’s standards and expectations. The Northern Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (the Act) commenced on 1 August 1993. While some amendments have been made since then, the Act was only comprehensively reviewed in 2017-2018.

In 2017-2018, the Act was reviewed by the Department of the Attorney‑General and Justice with a focus on ensuring it continues to meet the needs of the community.

As part of that review, a discussion paper outlining proposed reforms to the Act was released. You can read the discussion paper and submissions received Discussion Paper: Modernisation of the Anti-Discrimination Act | Department of the Attorney-General and Justice.

We have developed a Draft Bill proposing to make changes to the Act based on feedback received during the 2017-2018 review. We worked with the Office of the Northern Territory Anti‑Discrimination (ADC) Commissioner to prepare this Draft Bill.

We have released the Draft Bill as an exposure draft so that you can see the proposed changes and obtain your feedback to inform a Bill for the Legislative Assembly.

You can access a copy of the Draft Bill by downloading Exposure Draft Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022.

We encourage you to comment on the Draft Bill. Details about how to comment on the Draft Bill are provided at the end of this document.

Proposed changes included in the Draft Bill

Discrimination based on protected attributes

In addition to the existing protected attributes listed in the Act, we propose adding:

  • language, including non-verbal language;
  • gender;
  • sexual orientation (currently referred to in the Act as ‘sexuality’);
  • sexual characteristics;
  • accommodation status;
  • socio-economic disadvantage;
  • employment as a sex worker, including past sex work;
  • carer responsibilities (currently referred to as ‘parenthood’);
  • victims of domestic violence.

You can read the existing attributes listed in the Act here under section 19.

Assistance animals

Currently the Act only provides protection against discrimination for guide dogs for people with vision impairment.

We propose broadening the definition so that the Act includes protection against discrimination for appropriately trained or accredited assistance animals used by people with a broad range of disabilities.

Positive Duty to Advance Equality

The Draft Bill includes the addition of a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation to the greatest extent possible, where it is reasonable and proportionate. This duty will apply to persons prohibited under the Act from engaging in discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.

Anti-vilification

As Australians we enjoy living in a society where we have the freedom to express our opinions with others, but this should not extend to ‘hate speech’. We propose adding a provision to the Act that prevents public acts of vilification based on a person or group’s protected attributes.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can happen anywhere and in all areas of public life, not just at work. We believe that the Act should be updated to reflect this.

Discrimination against our teachers because of their sexuality

Religious educational institutions can currently discriminate against staff based on their sexuality. We propose removing this provision for greater inclusion of our community.

Provision of goods and services

The Bill proposes providing equal protection for people who provide and receive goods and services from a business or service, not just protection for people receiving goods and services. This would mean that a taxi driver as a service provider, not just the passenger, would be afforded protection from discrimination.

A representative complaints process

The Draft Bill includes a new representative complaints process. This will be a separate process from, and in addition to, our existing individual complaints process. The new representative complaints process will a complaint can be made to the ADC about systemic issues, such as an organisation’s policies or programs, that create disadvantage for a group of people.

What you should do

You can share your thoughts on the proposed amendments in the following ways:

Director, Legal Policy

Department of the Attorney-General and Justice

GPO Box 1722

DARWIN NT 0801

The closing date for all feedback is 12 August 2022.


Last updated: 18 July 2022

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